Spend any amount of time consuming popular media or talking to non-Christians, and you quickly realize that everyone has their own ideas about who Jesus was and what He wanted to communicate. So, if we want to share Jesus with others, we need to be able to center the discussion around what the gospels reveal about Him and His priorities.
Here are five critical teachings of Jesus that make Him unique among other religious teachers. It's definitely not an exhaustive list, but these teachings are a helpful place to start.
1. Loving God and loving others
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37b–40).
When an expert of the law tried to trap Jesus by asking about the most important commandment, Jesus made this critical statement. People often zero in on Jesus' command to love others, and that's important. But we need to recognize that He prioritized loving God with our entire being, and one of the ways we do that is by loving the people He created.
Jesus summed up the entire Law and the words of the prophets with these two commands.
2. I am the gate for the sheep
"Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:7b–10).
We can't embrace the idea that Jesus was just a great teacher and ignore the exclusivist language He used. Jesus clearly communicated that He was the doorway into the kingdom of God. If we want to be reconciled with God, we must go through Jesus.
3. I and the Father are one
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"
"We are not stoning you for any good work," they replied, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God" (John 10:27–33).
Orthodox Christian teaching recognizes Jesus as God—the second member of the Trinity. Some suggest that Jesus never claimed to be God, but that's not accurate. Jesus clearly says that He and the Father are one. Anyone curious about whether that was a metaphoric statement need only look at the reaction of the Jews who were going to stone Him for blasphemy. They knew exactly what He was saying.